FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Mariners and free agent Josh Hamilton have discussed three-year deals worth $20 million-$25 million per season.
There have been mixed messages on whether the two sides are nearing a deal or not, but the door seems wide open, what with the Rangers concentrating on Zack Greinke and Justin Upton at the moment.
Besides Seattle and maybe Texas, Hamilton isn’t known to have negotiated with any club this winter. The Phillies are one team that could conceivably slot Hamilton in, especially now that they’ve filled center field with a minimum-salaried player in Ben Revere. However, they’re working on a Michael Young deal in which they’d take on about $8 million and they also figure to sign a pitcher to replace Vance Worley.
Hamilton met with the Red Sox at the meetings, but that was before Boston signed Shane Victorino. The Red Sox will likely only be interested if he begins to look like a bargain.
At $20 million per year, Hamilton would seem to be just that, considering that Victorino got $13 million per year. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 homers and 128 RBI for the Rangers last season.
Ian Stewart, reportedly healthy again after wrist surgery, is set to re-sign with the Cubs, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
USATODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports that it’s a one-year, $2 million deal with up to $500,000 in incentives.
Stewart hit .156/.243/.221 in 122 at-bats for the Rockies in 2011 and .201/.292/.335 in 179 at-bats with the Cubs last year, but the hope is that the wrist surgery will allow him to turn his career around at age 27 next year.
Once considered one of the game’s top prospects, Stewart never met expectations in Colorado. Still, he wasn’t a complete bust, either, hitting .246/.334/.454 with 53 homers in 1,077 at-bats from 2008-10. As weak as the third-base market is this winter, it made more sense for the Cubs to give him another shot than it did to overspend for an outsider.
It’s safe to say the Twins won’t be getting a Christmas card from Michael Bourn, not after they filled the center field needs of two of his most likely suitors this winter.
With Denard Span in D.C., Ben Revere in Philadelphia, B.J. Upton in Atlanta and Angel Pagan in San Francisco, the market for Bourn is a complete mystery at this point. The Mariners like him, but Josh Hamilton is their top priority and it’s very hard to imagine them signing both. The Phillies won’t be paying Revere much more than the minimum, so theoretically, they could still sign Bourn for center and play Revere in left. However, they’re certainly much more interested in pitching after trading fourth starter Vance Worley for Revere.
The Cubs could be a fallback, as they have plenty of money to spend as they continue their rebuilding efforts. Still, it’d make a lot more sense for them to stay the course and groom Brett Jackson for center than commit $70 million or more to a 30-year-old who will likely be on the decline by the time they’re ready to contend.
Others? The Red Sox could consider a run if they trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but that seems like quite a long shot. The Indians came up with $11 million per year to offer Shane Victorino, but $15 million per year for Bourn would be a taller order. The Mets have the need, but not the money. Same goes for the Reds.
Bourn’s best hope for a big deal right now is for Hamilton to re-sign with the Rangers, leaving the Mariners to pursue their fallback option. Barring that, he might be best off taking a one-year deal and then going back on the market next winter.
3:20 p.m. EST update: Rosenthal is quoting an official involved in the talks as saying they’re “not dead,” but that things are no further along than they were going into the winter meetings.
3:00 p.m. EST update: Speaking with reporters about a half hour ago, Rangers GM Jon Daniels aid he was packed and ready to leave the winter meetings without completing a deal.
1:38 p.m. EST update: While other teams have packed up and left, Rosenthal says the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays are still at the winter meetings working on a Justin Upton trade.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is chiming back in on the Justin Upton trade talks, this time saying that two scenarios are in play, neither of which involve the Indians.
The Indians had been key in yesterday’s rumors, with Asdrubal Cabrera going to Arizona as the shortstop the Diamondbacks were thought to require in an Upton trade to Texas.
Rosenthal reports that both current scenarios involve the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays. One is a three-team deal and the other is a four-team deal that would include the Mariners.
While it’s speculation, Rosenthal thinks one way the deal could line up for the Rangers is for a Rays starter to go to Arizona, with Rangers third baseman Mike Olt and other prospects landing in Tampa Bay.
James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson could be the Rays starter in that plan.
Such an addition to the Arizona rotation could perhaps allow the Diamondbacks to swing a Cabrera deal with Cleveland afterwards.
As for the Mariners, they’re still believed to want Derek Holland from Texas. ESPN Radio’s Jim Bowden points out that the Mariners may be involved in order to aid the Rangers in getting Upton and thus help their chances of signing Josh Hamilton.
Even though Reed Johnson struggled after coming over from the Cubs in the Paul Maholm-Arodys Vizcaino deal in July, the Braves saw something they liked. They re-signed the veteran outfielder to a one-year deal with a club option for 2014.
Johnson, who turns 36 later this week, hit .302/.355/.444 in 169 at-bats for the Cubs last season, but he came in at .270/.305/.320 with no homers and just three walks in 100 at-bats for the Braves.
Used to coming off the bench, Johnson has played in at least 100 games but received no more than 270 at-bats three years running now. He’s hit over .300 against lefties each of the last seven years.
The Braves will view Johnson as an upgrade from Matt Diaz as a right-handed-hitting reserve. They’re still on the lookout for a starting left fielder to play alongside B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward.